Yesterday on CNN, GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry refused to back down from his previous debate comments that Turkey is being run by “Islamic terrorists.” “Did you misspeak?” CNN host Wolf Blitzer asked Perry, “Are you ready to revise your comments?” “Not at all,” the Texas governor replied. Perry justified his stance, saying that the Turkish government “allow[s] for honor killings”:
PERRY: I said that if they are treating their citizens that way, that they approach that terminology. I mean, when you allow for honor killings, Wolf — I mean, I hope you’re not defending honor killings as an appropriate act in any country, much less a country that we send foreign aid to. And we do send foreign aid to that country. I think some $4 billion. That’s not just a drop in the bucket.
BLITZER: Four billion dollars in this fiscal year? Is that what you’re saying?
PERRY: No, $4 billion in the last few years, and I think $7 billion on the military side of things. But the fact is, if we send any money to a country — Wolf, let me ask you, are you sitting here and defending the act of honor killing?
Watch the clip:
No, of course Blitzer isn’t defending honor killings and neither is the Turkish government. The Christian Science Monitor reported last year that Turkey has indeed seen a sharp increase in so-called “honor” killings — a term that “refers to a family member or members killing a relative, usually a girl or young woman, whose behavior is judged to have tarnished the family honor.” But the Turkish government isn’t “allowing” this to happen. While some have argued that the government has not done enough to combat the problem, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called it “a longstanding bleeding wound of the society.”
And Perry said that Turkey has received around $11 billion in aid “in the last few years.” In fact, the U.S. has granted nearly $21 million in military and security assistance to Turkey since 2009, making Perry’s $11 billion claim wildly off the mark. And as a recent Congressional Research Service report noted, Turkey has received approximately $14 billion since 1948, not in the last few years as Perry claimed.
But Perry’s overall point is that, as he said on Monday, Turkey should be kicked out of NATO and the U.S. should reevaluate its relationship with the Muslim majority Eurasian democracy. But the aforementioned CRS report suggests that this probably isn’t a good idea:
Arguably, Turkey is a more significant ally for the United States at present than during the Cold War. With several challenges to U.S. national security emanating from the greater Middle East, the United States has already shown that it seeks to use Turkey’s geographic location for its advantage, and it is likely that future U.S. regional interests will dictate a similar U.S. outlook.
“We absolutely and fundamentally disagree with [Perry's] assertion,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said yesterday, adding, “Rest assured that we believe that Turkey is a stalwart ally.”